11/03/11 — GHS playoff prospectus

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GHS playoff prospectus

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 3, 2011 1:56 PM

For the first time since joining the Class 1-A ranks, Goldsboro is not one of the favorites in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Flying under the radar suits Cougars' head coach Eric Reid just fine.

"I think our guys know the history of what this program has done in the playoffs," Reid said. "And I think this group of kids wants to go out and write its own history."

Goldsboro has reached the third round of the playoffs each of the past three seasons, the last two coming as a 1-A juggernaut and Carolina 1-A Conference champion. This season the Cougars are not conference champs, and are not a top seed in the playoffs.

The fourth seed in the Mideast Region, Goldsboro (6-4 overall) plays host to fifth-seeded East Montgomery (6-4) on Friday night. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Cougar Stadium.

"It's a little different coming into the playoffs after a loss," Reid said. "The nice thing is that it won't take much to get our guys focused or fired up on Friday night."

In the Cougars' 42-18 defeat at state-ranked Ayden-Grifton last week, the team failed to get its offense in gear. The Cougars were held to just 103 yards rushing and 225 total yards of total offense. The loss left Goldsboro hoping for a home game in the postseason, but not a guaranteed one.

When the brackets were released the following day, Reid and his staff breathed a collective sigh of relief.

"It is huge for us to get to play at home in the first round," Reid said. "There are times, especially as the weather gets colder, when you don't know how kids are going to respond to a long bus ride. I thought we came out sluggish at Ayden-Grifton and I did not want the same scenario to present itself in the first round of the playoffs."

The coaching staff has spent the last three days trying to find a way to improve the offense and bolster the defense which had posted three consecutive shutouts prior to the Ayden-Grifton game. Better tackling along with ball security will be two huge keys against East Montgomery.

"We have to get back to what we were doing before we played (Ayden-Grifton)," Reid said. "We can not give up big plays on defense and get behind. As far as the offense, we need to make good decisions with the ball and not turn it over."

Having an experienced quarterback to take the reigns on Friday night is a clear advantage for the Cougars. Julius Murphy has amassed 1,183 yards on the season and 12 touchdowns.

"We need him to manage the game and manage the offense," Reid said. "When there is an opportunity for a big play we will try to take advantage, but for the most part we need Julius to play within himself and take care of the ball."